How to Survive an Avalanche

How to Survive an Avalanche
The fear of anyone that hikes or climbs in snow-covered mountainous country is the potential of being swept up in an avalanche. A typical avalanche has the ability to carry a great deal of snow at high speeds down a mountain. Anything in its path will be engulfed by snow and swept before it. Nevertheless, it is possible to survive an avalanche by following certain procedures if you are caught in one.


Difficulty: Challenging

Step 1
Seek some sort of shelter as the avalanche approaches. Someone on foot has no chance to outrun an avalanche so fleeing is not an option. Try to position yourself behind a large tree, huge boulder, a building, or anything else that you judge to be strong enough to offer some protection within time.
Step 2
As the avalanche hits you, do not cry out. This is easier said than done but by screaming and opening your mouth you will allow snow and other debris in. Shout loudly to anyone else in danger as the avalanche is coming. Then turn away and crouch down low. Cover your mouth and your nose right before the impact.
Step 3
Try to get to the side of an avalanche if you are caught in one while skiing or snowboarding. If you feel yourself being swept away get rid of your equipment and attempt to "swim" through the snow and stay on top of it as long as possible. The breast stroke can be employed if you are being swept down the mountain headfirst. If you are moving feet first then simply try to stay above the snow using the same technique that you would utilize to tread water. The idea is to wind up as close to the surface as possible when the snow stops.
Step 4
Grab anything that can slow your progress down the mountain. Hold onto bushes, branches, or rock outcroppings if possible.
Step 5
Form an air pocket by getting into the fetal position if possible as you are slowing down and coming to a stop. Place your hands in front of your face and keep your elbows in towards your chest. Try to create an air pocket to breathe in with your head as you come to rest. If possible raise one hand above your head. This may succeed in breaking the surface and alert others to your position. Unless you can see sunlight don't waste precious energy trying to get yourself out of the snow. The snow will harden in seconds around you and you will need to concentrate on being able to breathe. Yell if you can so rescuers can find you. As impossible as it may seem, you need to stay calm and avoid panicking.

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